Playing Nasri could make financial sense for Wenger


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At the time of going to press Samir Nasri remained an Arsenal player with Arsène Wenger mulling over the possibility of playing the French international in the second leg of his team's Champions League qualifier at Udinese tomorrow. If Arsenal, who hold a narrow 1-0 lead from the first leg, lose the tie, they will be dropped into the Europa League for the first time since 1996.

Wenger, whose side is beset by injuries, is thus tempted to select Nasri but, if he does, the player will be rendered ineligible to play in the Champions League for another team this season. Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who has been pursuing Nasri "for 40 days", said that would be "a big problem".

City have offered £23m for Nasri and Wenger is understood to have been told by Stan Kroenke, Arsenal's majority shareholder, to accept the bid as Nasri, who is in the last year of his contract, will be able to leave on a free in June.

However, Wenger would prefer to keep Nasri and can make a financial argument for playing him in Italy tomorrow. Last season, Arsenal – despite going out in the round of 16 – earned £26.2m from the Champions League. By contrast, Porto earned only £6.85m for winning the Europa League. Add gate money and ancillary income and Nasri can cover his fee if he helps Arsenal go through. If City then decide not to buy him, Wenger gets to keep the player for another year, too.